Over 200 years at The Bankes Arms
Over the years all the alehouses in Studland have gradually disappeared until there is only one left, the Bankes Arms. In 1827 George Damon was the landlord of the New Inn, which was situated on the other side of the road from the existing public house. George Damon was not only a publican but also a farmer. The ground that the New Inn stood on was the property of the Bankes Family but he owned and farmed 32 acres in the heart of the village, so being landlord was only a part time job.
In the foreground is the cottage that was used as the Wellington Arms, in the background is the New Inn, now named the Bankes Arms. Note that the nearest portion is thatched. On the right of the picture are the stables, which were incorporated into the main building as the Horseshoe Bar.
Soldier, landlord and smuggler?
On George Damon's death in 1844 William Lawrence took over the tenancy at £8 per annum. Lawrence renamed the New Inn the Wellington Arms in honour of the Duke of Wellington with whom he had fought in the Peninsular war right up to Waterloo (many returning soldiers set up public houses with the money they received when leaving the army, which is why there are so many pubs named after the Grand Old Duke). William Lawrence's autobiography 'A Dorset Soldier' gives a detailed view into his life during and after his service. Lawrence did not fare too well initially as a landlord and after a short while he got into debt. However, these debts were paid off by the end of 1846, and after that he ran a thriving business.
Speculation had been rife about Lawrence's true profession while at the Wellington Arms. Many believe that he was connected with the smuggling trade, which was flourishing while he was landlord. Little Beach (now renamed by the National Trust ‘South Beach’) was one of the principal landing places for smuggled goods on the south coast, despite the fact that the new coastguard cottages had been built as recently as 1825.
William Lawrence gave up the Wellington Arms in 1856 when he was 66, retiring to a cottage. William died in 1869 at the age of 80. On giving up the Wellington Arms, Moses Gould took over as landlord renaming it the New Inn. Moses also farmed Kingswood Farm. How long Moses was landlord and if anyone took over from him is not clear, until Richard Sutton Clark became landlord in the late nineteenth century. Richard must have been the first tenant of the existing premises when it was built on its present site. During his time at the Bankes Arms, it acquired its present name, after the Bankes family.
Into the 20th Century
The next landlord was Ernest Harvel who took over in 1925. He built up a good trade from the yachting fraternity and provided an excellent cold buffet with lobster teas as a speciality with the help of his sister Hilda White, whose daughter-in-law is still living at Holmdene in the year 2002. Ernest Harvel was a Justice of the Peace, so no smuggling in his time. He came from the Castle Inn at Lulworth. Ernest was one of a family of seven, six of them each owned hotels. Where the beer garden is now there used to be three tennis courts.
The Bankes Arms Hotel as it was in the 1920s. There have been no changes to the facade to this day
R.S.M. Stevens took over from Ernest Harvel in 1941; he retired as an R.S.M in the Warwick Regiment. He was an upstanding man of military bearing, sporting a waxed moustache. Stevens had a Hungarian wife who had very little English. He was the right man at the right time, having the licence throughout the second war years, dealing with hordes of military personnel as well as shortages, long gone were the smuggling days to supplement the stocks. Stevens was a man that stood no nonsense.
The next landlord was Frank Pollard with his wife Vera. Frank was a big man; he was not too fond of his public bar clients. In 1953-4 he gave up the licence in favour of a Mr Scott [Scottie], his daughter Peggy and son-in-law Peter. At this time the old stables were converted into the famous Horseshoe Bar. Not long later Scottie handed the Bankes Arms over to the Salisbury's.
Tourism and the present
In the early days of the Salisbury's tenancy being the only pub in Studland it became the focal point of evening entertainment. However the price of beer was high because of the tourist trade; the boat owners would take the glasses thinking that they had already paid for them because of the price charged. In all fairness Peter tried to reduce the prices to the locals but it caused so much trouble that it had to be discontinued. Peter died in 1977 but Peggy stayed on with the help of their son David, The current landlord Tim Lightbown and his wife Jenny took over the licence from Peggy Salisbury just before her death in 1988.
Seated are Peggy and Peter Salisbury with the Bankes Arms darts team they are from left to right, Billy Marshalsea; Joe Harris who was a game keeper turned poacher. Joe had a crook hand, which he balanced his darts on. Peter Smith who emigrated to Ireland; Ken Swaffield, who came to Studland during the war with B.P. experimenting on setting the sea on fire as an invasion deterrent. Alex Churchill with the pipe; Cyril Upshall who married Patsy Summers. Peter, Ken, Alec and Cyril were all working on the farm when this picture was taken. Next is Geoff Styles who was a stalwart supporter of the Methodist Church. At the end is Roy Churchill, who worked as a ferry skipper until his death as a comparatively young man
We would like to express our gratitude to Mrs Vine for kindly allowing us to reproduce this section from her husband Richard's book: 'Studland: A Historical and Social Record of a Dorset Coastal Village'.
Copies are available from the village stores at the cross roads in Studland if you are interested in buying this book.